Guide to mobile data speeds

How fast is your phone’s internet connection? Chances are you’ve noticed the connection icon in the top left corner of your phone’s screen change throughout the day - from 4G and 3G to GPRS and EDGE. But what does it all mean? Let’s take a look at the different types of mobile data connection, and what they mean for download speeds.

How does mobile data work?

Let’s take a look at the technical stuff - but let’s keep it simple! Simply put, mobile data is a mobile internet connection. Your phone receives and sends (uploads and downloads) data through your mobile network, and the speed at which this data is transferred depends largely on your location.

There are different types of mobile data, which you’ll all have come across at some point in the top left corner of your phone - the most common being 4G, 3G, EDGE and GPRS. (In descending order of speed.)

GPRS and EDGE (often marked as ‘E’ next to your signal bar, but also known as 2G) are two of the slowest types of internet connection, reaching speeds of just around 100 to 300 kbps. You’ll usually see them when you’re in an area with poor signal reception, and your phone will only use them if it can’t connect to a faster signal. But fear not - most of the UK now has great 3G and 4G coverage!

What’s the difference between 3G and 4G?

How are 3G and 4G different? Again, it’s all about download speed - 3G is the slowest of the two, and typically offers speeds of 400 kbps (almost double the speed of EDGE connections!) It used to be the standard across the country, but it has been slowly replaced by 4G over the past few years.

4G is now the most popular type of mobile internet connection in the UK, and most smartphones nowadays offer 4G connectivity. 4G is also the fastest type so far (the next big step in data speeds will be 5G) and can reach speeds of up to 160Mbps.

Where has the fastest speeds in the UK?

Not every area in the country is created equal - some places will benefit from incredibly fast 4G, while others will struggle to get even the slowest GPRS signal. It also depends on the mobile network you’re on. Asda Mobile is powered by EE, the nation’s largest network, so you can relax knowing you have the best coverage.

So, where in the country has the fastest speeds, and who is stuck with super-slow data? Take a look at our coverage checker to get an idea.

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